A Secret of Long Life

In exchange for books of thirsty grids stamped S&H,
a glossy toaster popped up in Momma’s kitchen,
a marvel unlike the one whose silver wings flapped
flat singeing fingers and scorching toast.
To Aunt Susannah’s brood in Kilcoo, Momma sent
our own outgrown clothes still whole, while
in exchange for bags and bags of rags she packed,
a carpet weaver conjured a field of acanthus leaves.
Toasty feet on bloodless Philly mornings. Anemic
tea leaves nourished pothos and gardenia. She spun
scraped bits of beef into gravy so bronze it made us
weep. She did not take more than she gave
and thus was given long life
and a fur-collared Persian lamb coat my sister and I bought her
with our first pay checks. Although we thought
we had outgrown such thrift, today my sister stocks up
on bargains. Neither she nor her hair will last long enough
for all those bottles of sale shampoo. And I have
begun to record purchase dates
on creams and lipsticks to tally how long they last.

A pushcart nominee in fiction, Liz Dolan has published memoirs, fiction and poetry in numerous journals. In May she was chosen as an associate artist to work with poet Sharon Olds at The Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida.

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